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Bonn/Samarkand, 10 October 2023 – Today the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) entered into a landmark agreement with the government of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The Host Country Agreement marks the culminating chapter in the preparations for the upcoming 21st session of the UNCCD Committee on the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC21), to be held from 13-17 November 2023 in Samarkand. For the first time since its inception, UNCCD is convening one of its most important meetings in the heart of Central Asia. The highly anticipated CRIC21 will serve as a global platform for cutting-edge insights into land degradation and drought while assessing the progress the countries are making in restoring productive land. Welcoming the UNCCD delegation to the historic crossroads of culture and civilization in the city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan's Minister of Ecology, Aziz Abdukhakimov emphasized the upcoming UN conference's role in bolstering global partnerships and environmental innovation. Among the inspiring examples of the successful project in land restoration he shared is the ongoing tree-planting efforts on 2 million hectares to combat the Aral Sea environmental crisis. UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw noted that CRIC21 meets at a time of increasing environmental turbulence: cataclysmic heatwaves in Europe and North America, devastating droughts in the Horn of Africa, torrential monsoons and cyclones across Asia. The significance of land degradation as both a contributor to and a consequence of these phenomena cannot be overstated. Recent UN data paints a sobering picture, demonstrating that 420 million hectares of fertile and productive land between have been degraded between 2015 and 2019 – an area exceeding the combined landscapes of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. CRIC21 – a global symposium of delegates from 196 nations and the European Union, leaders of the civil society, academia, and international organizations – will delve into progress on the Convention's strategic objectives. These range from sustainable land management and drought resilience to ensuring fair land rights for women and tackling the sand and dust storms and wildfires exacerbated by the climate change and environmental degradation. The UNCCD secretariat wishes to express its sincere gratitude to the Republic of Uzbekistan for graciously assuming the role of the host for this pivotal event. Like an intricate carpet weaved by expert hands unfurls to reveal its detailed patterns, CRIC21 will roll out at the Silk Road Samarkand Congress Centre in Uzbekistan this November.
Bonn/New York, 16 June 2023 – Women facing worsening droughts, raging wildfires and other climate change impacts will deliver an urgent message to the international community at the United Nations in New York, calling for better land rights for women and girls everywhere. Drought, land degradation and desertification – all of which are becoming more frequent – are impacting women and girls first and worst, world leaders will hear at an event in the United Nations General Assembly on 16th June to mark Desertification and Drought Day. The theme of this year’s global observance, led by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), is ‘Her Land. Her Rights.’ Women make up around half of agricultural workers in developing countries and produce 60-80 per cent of food grown in these regions yet own less than one-fifth of all land worldwide. When land degrades and water and other resources become scarce, women and girls are exposed to poverty, hunger, displacement and violence. Among the leaders and gender equality champions advocating for women’s full land rights will be the Prime Ministers of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir and of Namibia Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, and the Vice-President of the Government of Spain Teresa Ribero Rodríguez. They will be joined by Finland’s first female President Tarja Halonen, UNCCD Goodwill Ambassadors and musicians Baaba Maal, Inna Modja and Ricky Kej, as well as indigenous and youth activists from countries as diverse as Canada and Chad. In a shared call to action, they will show there is a solution: women. They will say that when legal barriers to women owning and inheriting land are removed, women are able to make decisions on how to manage land, and both soil health and agricultural yields improve. Women are also more likely to invest in their family’s nutrition, health and education which benefits the whole of society. UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said: “Investing in women's equal access to land is not just an act of justice. It is an investment in our future, a commitment to the prosperity of our planet. It is an affirmation that we value not only the land beneath our feet, but the hands that work it.” To coincide with the event, UNCCD is launching a new analysis, which shows: Despite comprising nearly half the world's agricultural workforce and producing up to 80 per cent of food in developing countries, women’s rights to inherit their husband’s property continue to be denied in over 100 countries. Discriminatory practices related to land tenure, credit access, equal pay and decision-making often impede their active participation in sustaining land health. Today, less than one-in-five landholders worldwide are women. If women had equal rights to land, agricultural production in the poorest regions would increase by up to 4 per cent and malnourishment would decline by 12–17 per cent, resulting in 150m fewer hungry people globally. Countries with more women parliamentarians prioritize women and girls’ role in land protection and are more likely to ratify relevant treaties and set aside land for conservation. Meanwhile, only 12 per cent of the 881 national environment-related ministries run by elected officials are led by women. The event will continue to build on UNCCD’s ‘Her Land. Her Rights.’ campaign, which was launched on International Women’s Day in March 2023. Organized jointly by the UNCCD with UN Women, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UN Human Rights Office, and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the high-level event “Her Land. Her Rights: Advancing Gender Equality and Land Restoration Goals” will include debates and discussions on a woman’s role in sustainable land management. A digital photo exhibition entitled ‘Her Land’ created and curated by Inna Modja will offer an immersive experience of the daily realities facing women and girls living on the frontlines of desertification, land degradation and drought. She will also be joined by fellow Goodwill Ambassadors Baaba Maal and Ricky Kej in a live musical performance. In addition to New York, other events to mark Desertification and Drought Day – which officially falls every year on June 17th – will take place in all parts of the world, including China, Fiji, Hungary, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Serbia, Türkiye, and Vietnam. ENDS Notes to editors For interviews and enquires please contact: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org About UNCCD The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the global vision and voice for land. We unite governments, scientists, policymakers, private sector and communities around a shared vision and global action to restore and manage the world’s land for the sustainability of humanity and the planet. Much more than an international treaty signed by 197 parties, UNCCD is a multilateral commitment to mitigating today’s impacts of land degradation and advancing tomorrow’s land stewardship in order to provide food, water, shelter and economic opportunity to all people in an equitable and inclusive manner.
French | German Bern, Switzerland, 10 May 2023 – Today, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) signed a new voluntary contribution agreement for 2023-2024. Switzerland has committed 400,000 Swiss Francs to further support sustainable land management and ensure that all stakeholders, especially those representing the most vulnerable populations, can be fully involved in global decision-making on land and drought issues. Welcoming the agreement, UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said: “I commend Switzerland for its leadership and commitment to UNCCD’s efforts to ensure a sustainable future for our land. Switzerland’s generous support will be vital to improve land tenure systems and invest in solutions that put people—especially the most vulnerable—first.” During the signing ceremony, Ms. Patricia Danzi, Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation said: “Soil is the foundation on which is based our food security and livelihoods. We are happy to collaborate with the UNCCD for global sustainable land management contributing to resilient food systems.” UNCCD was set up in 1994 in response to the global challenges of desertification, land degradation and drought and is one of the three global Conventions that emerged from the Rio Earth Summit, alongside climate and biodiversity treaties. UNCCD works with its 197 signatories to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030, a global target enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals. Up to 40 per cent of land worldwide is currently degraded, with dire consequences for our climate, biodiversity and livelihoods. Droughts are up 29 per cent since 2000, driven by both climate change and land degradation. One of the key areas of the new agreement is to support women’s involvement in land management, advancing legitimate and secure land tenure for all, and collecting gender-disaggregated data on the impacts of desertification, land degradation and drought. Women’s land rights is the focus of the 2023 Desertification and Drought Day marked worldwide on 17 June under the slogan “Her Land. Her Rights.” “Women are major actors in the global efforts to reduce and reverse land degradation. However, in the vast majority of countries, women have unequal and limited access to and control over land. We cannot achieve land degradation neutrality without gender equality, and we cannot exclude half the population from land management decisions because of their gender," UNCCD Executive Secretary Thiaw added. Switzerland joined UNCCD in 1996 and since then has provided long-standing support to UNCCD through core funding and voluntary contributions. For example, Switzerland’s support was essential to ensure the participation of least developed countries and civil society organizations (CSOs) during the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the UNCCD held in 2022 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The new agreement will support the implementation of the decisions adopted at the Conference and ensure a diversity of voices in future negotiations under the Convention. In addition, it will reinforce the synergies among the three Rio Conventions, including through nature-based solutions and target-setting at the national level for a more resilient, sustainable future for all. For more information, contact: UNCCD: Ms. Xenya Scanlon Chief, Communications, External Relations and Partnerships T: +49 152 5454 0492 E: email@example.com Notes to Editors The contribution from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation for 2023-2024 has four objectives: helping advance the policy work of the Secretariat, in particular with regards to land tenure; fostering land-based opportunities through the CSO Panel; ensuring that technologies and information on sustainable land management practices are in line with the UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework, also with regards to drought and gender; and facilitating the participation of vulnerable groups at UNCCD meetings and processes —this includes least developed country parties, CSOs, women, youth and indigenous peoples’ groups. About UNCCD The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the global vision and voice for land. We unite governments, scientists, policymakers, private sector and communities around a shared vision and global action to restore and manage the world’s land for the sustainability of humanity and the planet. Much more than an international treaty signed by 197 Parties, UNCCD is a multilateral commitment to mitigating today’s impacts of land degradation and advancing tomorrow’s land stewardship to provide food, water, shelter and economic opportunity to all people in an equitable and inclusive manner.
A new study by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) reveals that gender inequalities are pervasive when it comes to land, and that securing women’s rights is imperative to achieve the intertwined global goals on gender equality and land degradation neutrality by the 2030 deadline. As emphasized by UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw, “Women are major actors in the global efforts to reduce and reverse land degradation. They restore land, they protect land, they cherish, nourish and care for the land, while also caring for others. However, in the vast majority of countries, women have unequal and limited access to and control over land. We cannot achieve land degradation neutrality without gender equality, and we cannot exclude half the population from land management decisions because of their gender." The new study titled “The Differentiated Impacts of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought on Women and Men” showcases how and to what extent desertification, land degradation, and drought raze the life and livelihoods of women and girls. The study advocates that gender inequalities should be addressed as part of biodiversity conservation, land restoration, adaptation, and mitigation of climate change. It also emphasizes the importance of efforts to transition to an inclusive and regenerative green economy, especially in the post-pandemic world. “Gender continues to be one of the world’s strongest markers of disadvantage. Like all crises, the ongoing environmental crisis caused by land degradation, desertification, and drought has a more severe impact on women than men. Women and girls are doubly affected—first by the crisis itself and further by enduring repercussions specific to women’s lives, which we should tackle as an equal priority,” says the study lead author Lorena Aguilar. The study shows that land degradation, desertification, and drought have a more severe impact on women than men and offers lessons on the changes needed to address gender inequalities in land access and tenure. Based on extensive literature research, expert interviews, data analysis and case studies from 55 countries, the study provides compelling evidence that without swift action, legal systems that promote equal land ownership might fail to harness the most needed transformative power of half of the global population. Gender equality remains unfinished business The study clearly shows that gender equality remains an unfinished business in every region of the world. The non-recognition of women as farmers, lack of land ownership, the restricted access to resources, technology, education, and training, as well as limited participation in decision making continue to be main barriers preventing women and girls to thrive and prosper. In many countries, women have unequal and limited opportunities to access or own or inherit land in their name. For instance, discrimination against women’s rights to own, use and control land and non-land assets was found in over two-thirds of the countries in the East Asia and the Pacific region. In the Middle East and North Africa only 4% of women hold land titles. In sub-Saharan Africa, women represent half of the agricultural workforce but only 18% of agricultural holders. Even in countries where women have the same legal rights as men to own and access land – as is the case in Costa Rica – only 15.6% of farm ownership is in the hands of women. While strengthening women’s land rights enables better protection of ecosystems and benefits household incomes, food security, children’s education and health, women’s rights to inherit their husband’s property continue to be denied in 102 countries under customary, religious, or traditional laws and practices, and disinheritance of the surviving spouse still occurs in 96 countries. The fact that it doesn't have to be that way and that change is possible is demonstrated by the advocacy campaign called “I want my inheritance” in Egypt. The campaign aimed to promote women’s rights to inheritance through raising the community’s awareness and mobilizing local relevant actors in Sohag. At the end of the advocacy campaign, 100 Christian and Muslim public figures and community leaders had promoted women’s rights to inheritance. In addition, 87 conflicts were settled amicably, 26 cases were referred to the courts and 10 women obtained their inheritance (they became role models encouraging other women to claim their rights). Furthermore, 17 Members of Parliament representing Sohag Governorate advocated a reform of the law to increase sanctions against those who deprive women of their inheritance rights. “I am the last one to eat” Women and other disadvantaged groups are more susceptible to climate shocks due to the lack of diversification of their assets, as well as less access to resources to cope with and recover from the damages. Once again, not having land titles that can be used as collateral, or the lack of secure tenure, hinder women’s access to loans and credit and limit their access to extension services and technology rendering drought preparedness to a real steeplechase for women and their families. Globally, women already spend a collective 200 million hours every day collecting water. Droughts tend to increase the burden of unpaid care and domestic work shouldered by women and girls. When droughts become full-fledged disasters, women bear the primary responsibility for the family’s daily survival, even during natural disasters. Not only, that the result of “caring for others” is expressed partly by standing in line and waiting for water, walking, and carrying water long distances, women often tent to eat less or adjusting portions of food. In rural Latin America, women use the expression “I am the last one to eat” highlighting the dire common practice in many societies to distribute food according to sex, age and status. Under this system, males usually get served first, followed by boys, then girls, and lastly, the women. Despite these stark realities, women continue to push the needle for change. Bhungroo a women-led irrigation system developed by Indian women farmers that relies on rainwater harvesting. A water management system injects and stores excess rainfall underground and lifts it out for use during dry spells. The system serves more than 18,000 impoverished farmers (with over 96,000 dependent family members) and is a fully women-driven process. Advancing global gender and land restoration goals “Effectively facing the interconnected challenges of land degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change requires profound structural changes. It is crucial to recognize that resolving gender inequalities is not only a matter of righting a wrong but also a significant opportunity to use previously underused and under-recognized abilities, knowledge, and talents,” UNCCD Executive Secretary Thiaw adds. UNCCD has a long track record in placing gender equality firmly at the core of its mandate as a vital catalyst of progress. By adopting the Gender Action Plan back in 2017, Parties to the Convention already acknowledged the specific role of women in land restoration and sustainable land management, as well as the importance of gender equality as a guiding principle in all policies and decisions associated to the fulfillment of the objectives of the Convention. At the UNCCD COP15 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, in May 2022, the Convention’s 197 Parties called for improving women’s involvement in land management as important enablers for effective land restoration, by addressing commonly encountered land tenure challenges by people in vulnerable situations, and collecting gender-disaggregated data on the impacts of desertification, land degradation and drought.
Since its inception, the UNCCD has held a firm mandate on the involvement of women in policy planning and decision-making at the local, national, and regional levels. The Convention stresses the importance of ensuring the full participation of both men and women at all levels in programs to combat desertification and to mitigate the effects of drought.